Need more proof that e-commerce is storming back with a vengeance? The U.S. Commerce Department’s newly released data shows the industry’s first back-to-back, double-digit percentage, year-to-year sales growth since the first quarter of 2008. Online sales in the U.S. were 14.3-percent higher in the first quarter of 2010 than they were a year ago, and this on the heels of a 14.6-percent rise in the final quarter of ’09. Web measurement firm comScore revealed similar gains in its report on the activity of online consumers.
To put the numbers in perspective, while total retail sales in the U.S. were also up from this time last year, that number grew only by about 6 percent. Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, excluding grocery stores, saw an increase of 3.4 percent in the first quarter — less than one-quarter of the growth experienced by e-commerce retailers.
The last bit of good news is that the first-quarter gains were not bolstered by the holiday shopping season as were those of the fourth quarter of 2009, and they beat analysts’ expectations by nearly 2.5 percent. The outlook, then, is positive on two fronts. Consumers are starting to spend the way they did before the end of 2008, and more shoppers are choosing the online experience in favor of traditional retailers.